Identity Theft Feed

This National Hurricane Center graphic shows how the strength and extent of Hurricane Ian's winds changed over its development. The orange segments are tropical storm force. The red swaths are hurricane force. For those of us who've visited Florida's Gulf Coast, the images of how Hurricane Ian destroyed a huge swath of it are gutting. My heart is breaking for Sanibel Island. I cannot image how the people who live there are feeling or coping. Landfall didn't stop this deadly monster. As Ian moved across the Sunshine State, it left in its wake similar, albeit less severe, damages. Now South... Read more →


We depend on our smartphones more than ever. They've made texting, especially among younger device owners, the preferred way to communicate. Crooks know this, too. Including tax identity thieves. The Internal Revenue Service says it's seen a recent rash of tax-related texting scams. These latest schemes, known as smishing because they use SMS (short message service) or MMS (multimedia messaging service), look like they are coming from the IRS. Don't fall for these fake IRS texts, which the tax agency says have increased exponentially this year. Exponential fake tax texts: So far in 2022, the IRS has identified and reported... Read more →


You've had that student loan for what seems like forever. So naturally, you're eager to take advantage of the debt forgiveness offered by the Biden Administration. But don't act too quickly or you could be a scam victim. Soon after President Joe Biden announced his plan that will erase in some cases up to $20,000 in undergraduate student loans, consumer advocates had some suggestions of their own. Beware of perps on the prowl with promises that they can get rid of your student loan obligation more quickly. Or get you even more loan relief if the federal plan doesn't cover... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service relies on taxpayers and tax professionals to help ensure that our national tax system is secure. These efforts are particularly critical as the federal tax agency goes more electronic. It's also a legal requirement for tax professionals. The Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999, also known as the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act after the names of its primary Congressional sponsors, mandates that financial institution companies ensure the security and confidentiality of any and all consumer information they collect. The Federal Trade Commission administers the law. Tax professional tax preparers are included in the law's definition of financial institutions.... Read more →


One of the most common tax scam practices is to take a bit of truth and twist it. Con artists tweak tax forms, create fraudulent online presences that mimic real tax sites, and impersonate tax officials. The latest report of criminals honing their nefarious tax techniques involves the IRS' Tax Exempt and Governmental Entities (TEGE) division and tax-exempt bonds. As part of the way the IRS audits tax-exempt bonds, the agency's TEGE unit uses its own secure electronic messaging service to transmit and receive data. That communication system now is being used as a hook in a new phishing scheme.... Read more →


All graphics courtesy IRS Tax Pros Twitter account Benjamin Franklin wasn't quite correct. There are three constants in life: death, taxes, and tax scams. For more than two decades, the Internal Revenue Service has annually highlighted the 12 worst recent scams. This year's Dirty Dozen includes questionable tax arrangement touted by con artists, pandemic-related schemes to steal people's identities and refund money, dubious tax payment options, and unscrupulous tax preparers. For the last few years, the IRS has shifted from a single list of a dozen tax scams to multiple alerts with more details on the various scams. Those new... Read more →


Photo by Pixabay Today the hubby got a disconcerting mailing from one of his investment accounts. It had paperwork for survivor claims. The last we checked (a few hours ago), he is very much alive. And since neither he nor I asked for this information, we immediately thought someone might have stolen his identity and tried to cash out this account. That doesn't seem to be the case (whew!). Our initial checks into the account, both ourselves online and by calling the investment company, indicate there's no security issue. But it's a good reminder to stay on top of your... Read more →


Unemployment benefits can help relieve some of the sting of losing your job. But there are downsides. The monthly amounts again are fully taxable. And during the COVID pandemic, criminals have had a field day getting fraudulent payments, and causing tax troubles for those individuals whose identities they stole. The COVID-19 pandemic and employment still are inextricably linked. When the coronavirus hit the United States in 2020, the concern was for the companies that had to shut down, and their employees who suddenly were without paychecks. Congress passed a series of COVID relief bills that provided relief options for companies... Read more →


House Oversight Committee members also investigating ID.me contracts, verification methods Photo by cottonbro In early February, the Internal Revenue Service announced plans to transition from ID.me's facial scanning identity verification system. The third-party service's scanning technology raised privacy concerns. A few weeks later, the IRS elaborated on its taxpayer identity process. It said the facial recognition would remain, but as an option, not a requirement. Taxpayers instead could participate in a live, virtual interview to prove they are legitimately opening their own online taxpayer account. The IRS also indicated that it eventually would join other federal agencies in using Login.Gov,... Read more →


One of the big selling points of taking your taxes electronic is that the Internal Revenue Service's turnaround is quicker. The tax agency has long touted that when taxpayers e-file and have their refunds direct deposited, the tax cash usually shows up within 21 days. Usually. The only thing certain about taxes is that they'll find a way to frustrate you. That's the case when e-filed refunds take longer. Here are six reasons, from the IRS and tax community, as to why your refund may be delayed. 1. Math errors: Yes, taxes are complicated. That's why most of us use... Read more →


Photo by cottonbro from Pexels If you're not comfortable with facial identification being part of the Internal Revenue Service personal taxpayer account creation process, you've now got other options. The tax agency, which earlier this month said it would end the controversial validation system used by contractor ID.me, says you can prove you are you via a live, virtual interview. "No biometric data — including facial recognition — will be required if taxpayers choose to authenticate their identity through a virtual interview," the IRS said in its brief statement announcing the move. Other ID OK options: Or you can wait... Read more →


New phishing scam targets tax pros, but everyone needs to be on guard The Internal Revenue Service today warned tax professionals about a new spearphishing scam. I'm surprised we made it into February before the latest tax scam appeared. This email scam uses the IRS logo. It also tries to ramp up the already urgent tax season by using a variety of subject lines, such as "Action Required: Your account has now been put on hold." The IRS provided bogus text of this scam below. Your account has now been put on hold ALL preparers are required to apply security... Read more →


Photo by cottonbro from Pexels A planned conversion of taxpayer accounts to a system that required use of a third-party facial recognition system apparently is no more. IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig announced the about face today in a brief statement. "The IRS takes taxpayer privacy and security seriously, and we understand the concerns that have been raised," said Rettig. "Everyone should feel comfortable with how their personal information is secured, and we are quickly pursuing short-term options that do not involve facial recognition." The agency is, in its words, transitioning away from its deal with ID.me, although that wasn't specifically... Read more →


Photo by cottonbro from Pexels The Internal Revenue Service is rethinking its decision to force taxpayers to use a private identity verification company in order to access their online accounts. The 180 came after blowback from Congress and consumer and privacy advocates. The reassessment doesn't mean the IRS is giving up on ways to strengthen its online security. Rather, according to a Treasury statement reported by Bloomberg, the IRS is looking at ways to "balance ease of taxpayer access" with increased protections against criminals who use stolen taxpayer identities to file for fraudulent tax refunds. The increased security raised public... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service will go beyond its current multifactor authentication online access protocol when it comes to signing in to taxpayer accounts. The Internal Revenue Service continues its efforts to get more of us to interact with it electronically. It also wants to make sure those transactions are secure. So later this year, the IRS is implementing a new security protocol for folks who want to set up or manage an online taxpayer account. But it appears, at least based on anecdotal online and social media reactions, that the move might backfire. More steps to get info: Last week,... Read more →


Photo by Kay Bell The 2022 filing season is already underway for many taxpayers even though the Internal Revenue Service won't start processing their returns until Jan. 24. But these early bird filers are on to something. Here are eight reasons you might want to consider completing your Form 1040 soon. 1. To get the rest of your Child Tax Credit. Around 36 million families last year got an early tax benefit. The IRS delivered half of their 2021 tax year Child Tax Credit (CTC) in advance as monthly payments from last July through December. The maximum advance amounts were... Read more →


If you think online crooks are just going after big businesses, think again. Smaller firms are prime cyberattack targets. Go big or go home, unless you're a cybercriminal targeting businesses. More than 70 percent of cyberattacks are aimed at companies with 100 or fewer employees. That revelation is from the Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners as this year's National Tax Security Awareness Week was winding down. It's also this weekend's By the Numbers figure. In going after smaller business, con artists target credit card or payment information, the business identity information, or data on employees. "Thieves may... Read more →


Gift cards make great presents for family and friends, but they cannot be used to pay taxes. (Gift card wreath via Pinterest) We all have people on our holiday gift lists who are hard — OK, impossible — to shop for. When I struggle to find the perfect gift, I follow my personal credo: Say it with cash. Or, more often, with plastic. Yes, I give gift cards. And if family and friends are reading this, I am happy to get them. But one place where gift cards aren't welcome is the Internal Revenue Service. This IRS is making a... Read more →


Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels I know, it seems like it's all crypto all the time of late here at the ol' blog. But that's because that's what's happening right now in the tax world. There is, of course, the new tax reporting rules for digital assets, including cryptocurrency, that are part of the just-enacted transportation law. One of the reasons lawmakers approved the closer look by the Internal Revenue Service at digital transactions is because law enforcement officers have found the sector rife with criminal tax activity. It's not just anecdotal reports. OK, it is some anecdotal reports,... Read more →


Shutterstock There's one terrifying ghoul who hangs around long after Halloween. In fact, he and his ilk have been busy all year. It's the tax scammer. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) just this week warned that scammers are sending yet another phony Internal Revenue Service email about COVID-19 relief payments. "There's a fake IRS email that keeps popping into people's inboxes. It says that you can get a third Economic Impact Payment (EIP) if you click a link that lets you 'access the form for your additional information' and 'get help' with the application," says Cristina Miranda of the FTC's... Read more →